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American Indian Education Knowledgbase

This KnowledgeBase archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.

The American Indian Education KnowledgeBase is an online resource to aid education professionals in their efforts to improve the education of American Indian students and close the achievement gap American Indian students have faced in public, Bureau of Indian Education, and other schools.

Task 3: Know About Efforts to Revitalize and Teach American Indian and Other Indigenous Languages

Guideline: As fewer and fewer people speak American Indian and other indigenous languages, there is an increasing awareness of the effects of the loss of these languages and the cultures they embody on American Indian and other indigenous peoples. Efforts are being made worldwide to revitalize indigenous languages and to pass them on to new generations of speakers. Indigenous language revitalization is seen by many as a part of a needed healing process to restore the health of native communities adversely effected by colonial assimilationist educational policies.


*NEW Endangered Languages - Rosetta Stone

This Rosetta Stone website shares that across North America and around the world, indigenous communities are working to preserve and revitalize their languages. Via this website, Click on a map location to find out more about the Native communities that chose Rosetta Stone® to be a part of their language revitalization initiative. The sponsoring organizations listed own the language materials developed during the project and have exclusive sales and distribution rights over the finished edition.

How Technology is Saving Native Tribe Languages

Native American Languages are disappearing, but with this App, Darrick Baxter can save cultures. In this 2015 Tedx talk, we meet Darrick Baxter, who is a developer who creates Native American Indian language learning tools for tribes in Canada and the United States. This is Darrick's passion because he wants to help other tribes revitalize and pass on their ancestral language.

Citizen Powatomi Nation

This Powatomi Nation website offers: News and Events, Culture, Government, Enterprises, Languages and Services. An online self-paced course is offered as well as Culture Teachings, and a Children's course.

Comanche Nation and Language

This Comanche Nation website focuses on Comanche history and language lessons. Their purpose: To change the direction of the Comanche language. That change is to restore the N?M? TEKWAP? as a living language once more and to take our language of heritage into the future. 

Native Words, Native Warriors: Lesson Plan

This website explores the lives and experiences of American Indian Code Talkers, the servicemen who used their traditional tribal languages to transmit secret messages for the United States military during World War I and World War II. The content focuses on the Code Talkers’ wartime experiences, as well as their pre- and post-war lives. Their highly honored military achievements are placed in a larger cultural and historical context to encourage deeper appreciation of and respect for the complex and difficult challenges they faced as American Indian people of the twentieth century.

Pumvhakv School Online Learning Center - Seminole Nation

This Pumvhakv Online Learning Center offers online video Alphabet Lessons, Lessons on Telling Time, Locations, Descriptions, Present Tense, Command Forms, and Conversational Phrases in the Maskoke language.  Learning Materials are also available. The Pumvhakv School will soon host online language lessons through Adobe connect.

We Are Learning Cherokee

This Cherokee Nation website offers audio, book (written), and online language course formats for learning the Cherokee language.  There is also a 3-part "See, Say, Write" curriculum that covers lessons 1-30. The Downloads webpage offers an extensive list of Cherokee Language curriculum.

Webkanza: The Online Home of the Kanza Language

This website offers the Wajíphanyin Kaw Nation Kanza Language Learning Application, 2008 Update Version. This free language software contains one full semester of multimedia Kanza language units, a nearly 300-word lexicon, a culturally relevant video game to practice vocabulary, a progress tracking system capable of accommodating multiple users, and a complete set of instructions for Windows PC and Macintosh operator systems.  The Kaw Nation has maintained a department for the preservation and education of the tribal language since the late 1990s. Beginning in the Summer of 2001, the Kanza Language Project was formed as the result of an Language Implementation grant from the Administration for Native Americans.



Guidelines for Strengthening Indigenous Languages

Published by the Alaska Native Knowledge Network these "guidelines offer suggestions for our Elders, parents, children and educators to use in strengthening their heritage language with support from the Native community, schools, linguists and education agencies." Though initially developed for Alaskan native groups the guidelines are useful to any group working to strengthen their native language.




Bill Funding Native Language Programs Passes in Montana

A bill making Montana the second state in the nation to provide funds for Native language immersion programs in public schools passed in the legislature on April 23rd. 2015. Sponsored by Democratic Senator Jonathan Windy Boy from the Rocky Boy Reservation, reverses the state’s historic policies, which punished Native American students for speaking their languages in the public schools. Hawai’i is the only other state that provides funding for Native language immersion programs. Windy Boy says he is proud that Montana is helping to lead the way.




Indigenous Language Immersion Schools for Strong Indigenous Identities

Drawing on evidence from indigenous language programs in the United States, this Fall 2010 article by Dr. Jon Reyhner, makes the case that these immersion programs are vital to healing the negative effects of colonialism and assimilationist schooling that have disrupted many indigenous homes and communities. It describes how these programs are furthering effects to decolonize indigenous education and helping further United Nations policies supporting the rights of indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Languages Articles

This website hosts a collection of articles focusing on Teaching Indigenous Languages by Northern Arizona University Professor Jon Reyhner, Ed.D.

The American Indian Language Policy Research and Teacher Training Center - University of New Mexico

The American Indian Language Policy Research and Training Center, established in 2008 through efforts from Dr. Christine Sims and supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, aims to serve as a local and national center of collaborative research that examines major policy issues affecting the survival and maintenance of American Indian languages. As a part of the University of New Mexico's College of Education, a key aspect of the Center's outreach and service is developing and providing Native language teacher training programs and technical assistance support for American Indian tribes engaged in language maintenance and preservation initiatives.  The Center also seeks to build an international dialogue about language issues that extend to other Indigenous languages of the Americas through international symposia and public forums. winter 2008 PDF

Cultural Rights, Language Revival, and Individual Healing

This article from the Language Learner magazine describes the importance that many American Indians give to efforts to revitalize their languages.

National Alliance to Save Native Languages

As noted at its website, "the National Alliance to Save Native Languages was founded in October of 2006 for the exclusive purpose of promoting the revitalization of Native Languages. While this website is currently under construction, the Alliance is comprised of a coalition of stakeholders including tribes, schools, and individuals, regional and national organizations."  President and Founder, Ryan Wilson, Oglala-Lakota offers the following testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in June of 2014.

Native American Language Immersion: Innovative Native Education

This report is a project of the American Indian College Fund and written by Janine Pease-Pretty On Top with the introduction by Richard Littlebear with research supported by the W.K.Kellogg  Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan. The focus of this study is of a people’s initiative, Native American language immersion encompasses educational practices and social development that lie outside the mainstream language teaching, education, and socializing methods of American children.

Oklahoma Schools Push to Keep Native Languages Alive

This 2012 Indian Country Today article focuses on Oklahoma public schools that teach native American Indian languages alive. Oklahoma House and Senate introduced bipartisan legislation to continue funding that will help keep Native American languages alive and spoken throughout our country’s tribal communities. The Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act, first funded in 2008 and set to expire at the end of this year, has funneled more than $50 million into tribal language programs.  One survey says nine different Native languages are taught in up to 34 public schools, K-12, all over Oklahoma: Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Comanche, Kiowa, Osage, Pawnee and Ponca.  Desa Dawson, director of World Language Education for the Oklahoma State Department of Education, says 1,355 elementary and high school students in Oklahoma are taking Native American language classes this year as their world language requirement.

Teaching Indigenous Languages

This website offers resources related to teaching indigenous languages. As noted at the website, "it is an outgrowth of a series of annual conferences started in 1994 at Northern Arizona University to help achieve the goals of the Native American Languages Act of 1990, which makes it government policy to promote, protect, and preserve the Indigenous languages of the United States of America."



* Restructuring Schools to Nurture Native American Students

The high school graduation rate for Native Americans is the lowest of any ethnic or racial group in the United States. How can the government assist reservation schools while respecting autonomy of tribes? In this 2014 PBS 'News Hour" television program, Judy Woodruff talks to Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, about a series of initiatives announced by President Obama on how to undo deep-seated education challenges for Native American Indians.

*NEW video* Indigenous Language Revitalization

In this 2015 video, April Charlo is the Executive Director of Nkwusum Language Institute on the Salish, Kootenai, Flathead Indian Reservation, shares how she teaches indigenous languages, and has learned how cultural differences have evolved. April Charlo believes language is tightly integrated with how a culture integrates itself in the world.  With values, such as ownership, our language defines how we talk about our relationships with each other and the natural world.

*NEW video* Protecting Lakota Culture with Science, Tech, Engineering & Math (STEM)

In this June 2016 Tedx talk, University student and Lakota Vaughn Vargas explores and how traditional Native American culture can STEM have a mutually beneficial connection. Vaughn, a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe member, has lived in Rapid City for the past 25 years. Vaughn started his academic career at Oglala Lakota College with aspirations to establish a Counseling Service facility centric to Lakota Traditional values. Vaughn has matriculated to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and will be graduating in December 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management. A few of Vaughn’s notable accomplishments are 2013 Mr. AIHEC (American Indian Higher Education Consortium), Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board "2013 Rising Star in Public Health and Research", 2014 Udall Foundation Scholar, 2015 National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development "40 Under 40", Hawkinson Foundation "2015 Peace and Justice Leader", and a 2016 Truman Foundation Finalist (pending notification). Vaughn is currently employed as the Community Advisory Coordinator for the Rapid City Police Department.

*NEW video* Rising Voices: Revitalizing the Lakota Language

This 2013 film features language immersion teachers and administrators whose goals are to revitalize the Lakota language and promote positive thoughts by their students about being Lakota.

How A Struggling School for Native Americans Doubled Its Graduation Rate (2017)

This 2017 video shares schools that serve Native American students have a history of failure. Fewer than a third of students scored above average on math and reading tests compared to peers nationwide, according to a study commissioned by the Bureau of Indian Education. In 2006, the Native American Community Academy (NACA) launched as a charter school in Albuquerque with the aim of increasing college enrollment in tribal communities, partly by incorporating Native culture into the curriculum. In 2016, over 90 percent of the graduating class was accepted into college. Now NACA founders are teaching others how to start charters with native leaders and curricula that reflect tribal cultures. The NACA-Inspired Schools Network (NISN) has opened six charters in New Mexico, including Kha'p'o Community School on the Santa Clara Reservation, a native community with failing schools and high crime rates.



* Saving the Lakota Language through Immersion Education

The Lakota language is a Native American language that is near extinction. In this audacious 2015 TedX video, Peter Hill shares his journey of saving the Lakota language through Lakota Immersion Childcare, also known as Iyápi Glukínipi.

*NEW video* Cherokee Language Lesson One

In this 2015 video, Chief Moon Wolf offers Eastern band Cherokee Language Lessons. He states the Cherokee language did change after the Trail of Tears .

*NEW video* Why Save a Language (2006)

More than half of the 300 indigenous languages of North America are now extinct. But a movement by Native peoples to resurrect and preserve these languages is thriving in many places around the continent. In this film, Native people from various tribes and languages discuss the heart wrenching loss of indigenous languages, and the importance of keeping what remains alive. An important film for any interested in linguistics, saving Native American Indian languages, and saving global languages.

Educators Try New Methods to Save American Indian Languages

This October 2017 article addresses that the United States is home to 562 federally recognized American Indian Nations, each with its own language.Yet the number of Native Americans with the ability to speak their tribe’s language has decreased over the past century. Indian Nations are trying different ways to expand the number of native speakers, and increase interest in their communities to learn tribal languages.  Organizations are turning to modern technology. The Sealaska Heritage Institute, a nonprofit group, has developed a podcast and two apps for speakers of the Tlingit language. The "Learning Tlingit" app serves as a reference for important language topics such as conversation phrases, numbers, and letters. The Tlingit tribe has about 10,000 members. They live mainly in southeastern Alaska. But as of 2013, the tribe had only 125 native speakers left. This is low, considering that every other tribe in Alaska has a higher percentage of native speakers. In addition, very few young people are able to speak Tlingit.

How Does Language Immersion Education Benefit Native Children?

In this August 2016 video, step into the classroom at Wicoie Nandagikendan, a preschool program at the Little Earth Community in Minneapolis that immerses children in the Dakota or Ojibwe language and culture.

Native language Immersion Programs Need Support

In this 2014 open letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Ryan Wilson, the president of the National Alliance To Save Native Languages, urges Secretary Jewell to address support for Native language immersion schools and programs. 

Navajo Children Thrive in Native Language-Immersion School

The University of New Mexico is taking part in a study that looks into how Indigenous Language Immersion schools can lead to better outcomes for Native American students. This May 2017 video explores this effort.

The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and are intended for general reference purposes only. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education or the Center, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Some resources on this site require Adobe Acrobat Reader. This website archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.